US operators try to pinpoint altitude of 911 callers - Mobile World Live

US operators try to pinpoint altitude of 911 callers

23 SEP 2017

US wireless industry organisation CTIA is seeking solutions from location technology vendors which can help pinpoint what floor of a building emergency callers are on.

The 9-1-1 Location Technologies Test Bed, an independent company formed by CTIA, announced Friday (22 September) it is moving into “Stage Z” testing of systems which determine the altitude of a 911 caller. Interested parties were invited to participate.

“Stage Z further demonstrates our commitment to exploring all existing and emerging technologies to improve indoor 911 location accuracy,” Test Bed VP Tom Sawanobori said, adding: “The results of these tests will help us evaluate technologies that can help first responders save lives during emergencies.”

Test Bed was created to evaluate the ability of mobile operators to meet 911 location accuracy requirements set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015. To improve the location data provided to first responders, the FCC rules encourage operators to determine vertical location information using z-axis technologies.

The push comes as wireless technologies complicate the ability of 911 response centres to accurately determine caller locations’ indoors.

According to the 2016 National 911 Progress report by the US government, 80 per cent of emergency calls in 2015 came from mobile phones. The figure was up from 76 per cent the year prior.

The report also found use of technologies such as VoIP and text-to-911 are also on the rise: VoIP calls nearly doubled between 2014 and 2015, jumping from 3.5 million to 6.2 million; text-to-911 usage increased exponentially from 2,391 instances to 84,700 in the same period.

Stage Z testing is set to begin in early 2018 with recommended standards expected to be released by August.

CTIA said it’s also working with stakeholders on other 911 location enhancements through the development of a National Emergency Address Database (NEAD). The NEAD will provide 911 answering centres with location information including the street address of the wireless caller and more detailed information such as apartment or office numbers.


Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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